The way in which we listen determines what we hear. Noise Museum brings together the work of six contemporary artists to arouse modes of active listening and create a shared aural space within Heathcote Gallery. With listening and hearing central to their practices, these artists move across mediums of video, digital media, installation, text and sound, creating works that range from field recordings, sound visualisations, architectural interventions, through to intimate assemblages exploring the relationship between acts of listening and personal histories. This exhibition works with the environment, creating an immersive social space and challenging the boundaries between sound, noise, music and art.
Every museum makes noise – the footsteps on floorboards,
humming air-conditioning, the whispers of visitors. From the
moment you arrive at Heathcote, you are assaulted by sound.
The wind that carries the shrieks of children playing on the pirate
ship stirs the Norfolk Island Pines and whips the waves of the
river below. “Noise is a sea of sound”, wrote Yasunao Tone, “it
is pure frequency uncontaminated by symbolisation”. The word
noise comes via the Latin root nauseam. From this we derive
ship, noise, nausea and nautical. Noise’s origins lie in sickness
and the sea. These find their nexus at Heathcote.
Heathcote is not a typical art gallery. Your first clues upon
entering are the cramped rooms to your left. These were once
the cells where new patients awaited admission to the Heathcote
Hospital. This architecture is not that of an ostentatious palace
of art, it was built to permit internal control and to render visible
those inside. It is not a place to see but to be seen. For this
reason, Heathcote is a Gallery uniquely attuned to the logic of
noise. Where most galleries offer visitors a place from which
to claim a perspective, based on the idea of vision requiring
distance, here you can be immersed in the world. Noise is not
directional, but rather chaotic – sounds come to us, whether or
not we seek them out.
Zora Kreuzer’s work creates three spatial environments,
converging colour, movement and time. These works are an
absolute part of the space, reaching to and reflecting from every
surface. The reverberation of noise and flickering of the neon
tubes restate and destabilize the internal architecture, enveloping
the visitor in Kreuzer’s distinctive visual language of light and
In these cells, and in the other corners of Heathcote Gallery,
sound does not behave as it does in the hard, cubic voids of
other galleries. Sound does not echo around, but instead creeps
from space to space, bumping into other sounds and allowing
them to interfere and merge in productive ways.
Lyndon Blue embraces this, with a spatialised installation that
considers the emotive and psychological properties of sound.
Multiple auditory streams give the impression of a sound source
located in three-dimensional space. Moving around the work, the
visitor falls in and out of pools of silence. Like the breaths that
punctuate speech, these find potential in the emptiness of space
and sound - reminding us of our physically located bodies, our
place in the world.
Elise Reitze, too, locates her work in the physical, returning to
the theme of waves and the relationship of noise to the ocean. If
we understand noise as irregular vibrations in air, we can see it
rides this medium as a surfer rides a wave. Noise, like the surfer,
is not the origin of the effort, but is taken up in the motion of an
external force. Reitze’s work draws our attention to the noise
present in all forms of mediation.
Rebecca Orchard’s work moves us from the intimacy of the
personal to consider the wider ecosphere. Her large-scale
painting on fabric echoes the forms and flows in the natural
world surrounding Point Heathcote. The enveloping folds of
the painting cocoon the accompanying sound piece, as if
woven together. This work responds to Bruno Latour’s call to
be more sensitive, more responsive to the Earth we inhabit. It
aligns sound with biological cycles, making audible “the loops
of feeling, action, and thinking that weave us into the fabric of
Howard Melnyczuk’s work also breeds the ideas of noise and
environment, drawing together the other works in the main space
by actively listening to them. Interpreting its audio environment,
the generative computational work mutates its genetic structure
to build an evolving visual representation. In this way, it forms
a memory – having heard a sound once, the repetition of this
sound will not alter the algorithm’s genetic code. It at once
creates an image that expresses the noises in the room and
creates an archive of their histories. In this way, we could think of
it as an adaptable, self-contained museum.
Phil Gamblen’s work also speaks of memory. The artist has
created an intimate assemblage, made up of small bells from
the personal collection of his late mother. It draws on our history
of the bell as the creator of communities, through music, prayer
or timekeeping. The solenoid-driven ringing of Bells produces
a complex network of relations between light, materials and
different sounds. A museum’s collection tells us what we value
as a culture. Gamblen’s work reminds us that this need not be
defined by the state, institutions or wealthy individuals, but can
instead be personal, restorative and communal.
Goolugatup Heathcote is located on the shores of the Derbal Yerrigan, in the suburb of Applecross, just south of the centre of Boorloo Perth, WA. It is 10 minute drive from the CBD, the closest train station is Canning Bridge, and the closest bus route the 148.Accessibility and amenities
The Gallery is open 10-4 weekdays, 12-4 weekends, and closed public holidays. The grounds are open 24/7.